The Columbus Blue Jackets announced a pair of roster moves this morning, placing defenseman Zach Werenski on injured reserve after sustaining a quad contusion in last night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on a hit from forward Garnet Hathaway, which resulted in a minor penalty and $5,000 fine. Werenski will miss between one and two weeks. In response, the team recalled top defense prospect David Jiricek from AHL Cleveland.
This continues to be a tough stretch of injury luck for Werenski, who missed the last 69 games of last season with a shoulder injury. Werenski skated 13:43 last night and recorded a -1 rating before exiting the game, which ended up being a 4-2 loss for Columbus in their home opener. It was the start of a four-game homestand for the Jackets, who don’t play on the road until October 21st at Minnesota.
It opens the door for Jiricek, the sixth-overall pick in 2022, to force his way onto the roster over the next few games. The Blue Jackets are reportedly shopping a defenseman to make room for Jiricek on the active roster, but a trade might now wait until later in the month with Werenski on the sidelines. Jiricek was one of the best rookies in the AHL last season, logging 38 points in 55 games for the Cleveland Monsters and earning a look in four NHL games with Columbus. He’s still looking for his first NHL point, however.
Columbus head coach Pascal Vincent confirmed earlier this morning that it wasn’t likely to be a long-term absence for Werenski, the team’s undisputed number-one defender. However, Jiricek, a right-shot defenseman, won’t be able to directly replace the role of Werenski, who plays on the left side. While Jiricek could get some significant minutes over the next few weeks, the most direct effect of this injury will be on offseason addition Ivan Provorov, who will now likely slide up to the top pairing alongside Damon Severson. Provorov had a tough outing against his former team last night, recording just two shot attempts and a -2 rating in over 25 minutes of ice time.